Early 2021, Apple released Apple AirTag as a means to keep track of the items we forgetfully misplace – such as a wallet, your keys, maybe a backpack at the gym. But the nefarious criminal underworld has other ideas for this cutting-edge technology – car theft. Car thieves are using Apple’s AirTag tracking device as means to locate the cars they want to steal so that they can find them later and pull off a heist.  

Carjackers will place Apple AirTag devices into hidden crevices on the luxury vehicles they desire – generally in a public setting, like a busy mall parking lot. They’ll then use the information from the device to track the car’s location in order to hotwire the vehicle.  They hotwire the vehicle by using an electronic device typically used by mechanics to reprogram the factory settings. Once connected to the onboard diagnostics port, located below the dashboard, the carjacker programs the vehicle to accept a key the thieves have brought with them. Once the new key is programmed, the vehicle will start and the thieves will drive away.  

Since its release in April 2021, Apple has updated the technology of the AirTag to provide more safety and privacy. One update adjusted the period of time it takes for an AirTag to play an alert after being separated from its owner. When they first launched, a “lost” tag would begin to emit a noise after three days, but Apple has shortened that time frame to an interval of 8 and 24 hours – meaning that a carjacker would have to act fairly quickly between placing the AirTag on the target car and completing the theft. 

AirTag also notifies people when they are nearby, including the owners of the vehicles who have been targeted. It will send a message to your iPhone or iPad that says, “AirTag Found Moving With You” or “AirTag Detected”. This would be the more likely scenario if your vehicle is parked outside where you would not hear the alert noise. If you were to see this notification, then Apple says the AirTag can be disabled by tapping that message and following the onscreen steps. At this point, you can contact your police department and provide the physical AirTag itself, or its serial number, and the police can work with Apple to find the owner of the AirTag. Apple has also created an app, called Tracker Detector, for Android users which also allows them to receive notifications from a hidden AirTag. 


Is Car Theft Insurance Covered in Your Policy? 

Not all auto insurance policies cover the cost of the car in case of theft.  For your insurance company to cover the costs of your car in case of theft, you need to have a comprehensive insurance policy.  A comprehensive insurance policy will provide coverage in the case of theft, vandalism, fire, and natural disasters. If you would like an auto insurance quote, visit our website – or talk with one of our agents to learn more about the specific coverage in your policy. 


As technology becomes smarter and the safety and security of your belongings, including your vehicle, become more important, keeping up to date on the latest trends can help keep you protected. While this may seem like intimidating information, we like to think of it as staying one step ahead. We are big fans of technology (just think how much easier getting an auto insurance quote online is now!) but staying vigilant is just what we do. After all, we’re Cayuga Mutual Insurance!